By TAYLOR MURCHISON-GALLAGHER
Southington’s marquee event, the Apple Harvest Festival, officially kicked off the 51st year on Friday, Oct. 4, where hundreds of people took part in “Bushels of Family Fun.”
“We’re often asked what makes the festival the success that it is and the answer is very clearly evident,” said town councilor Chris Palmieri, chair of the AHF supervisory committee. “It’s our volunteers, our sponsors, our hostesses, our families, and our friends, and that’s what brings this community together. We couldn’t do this without the help of all the members of our community.”
In keeping with AHF tradition, several events and competitions celebrated the best of Southington, including the crowning of Delores Hall as the 2019 Granny Apple.
Hall’s granddaughter Kaylee Hall, a DePaolo Middle School sixth grader, wrote in her winning essay that her grandma “Dolly” is very special because “she’s always doing funny dances and making silly faces to make us happy and laugh.” The Hall ladies kicked off the Apple Harvest Festival parade, following members of the Southington Police Department.
Also featured in the parade were the 2019 Apple Harvest Host, Hostesses, and the 2019 Queen Brianna Harris, who was crowned during the Apple Harvest Gala.
“It was a shock, but I just knew that I put in a lot of hours helping the community,” Harris told The Observer during the gala. “I wasn’t really counting the hours, I was more worried about how much fun I was having with my friends more than anything.”
“The host and hostesses this year have been working hard this year to raise money for the Southington Dog Pound, [and] providing food for the food pantry,” said Ed Dressel, the AHF parade announcer for almost thirty years.
Parade grand marshal John Myers rode near the center of the parade, in front of the Southington YMCA float. Myers, who said he was quite surprised to be named as the grand marshal, worked for the YMCA for more than 20 years before retiring in 2018 from the position of executive director.
Southington’s Holli Laone took home first place in the Apple Pie Baking contest, followed by silver finisher Ally Massi of Southington, and Donna Rozzi of Burlington taking third place.
According to AHF assistant coordinator, so many adults wanted to take part in the Apple Fritter Eating contest that the 18 years and older category was divided into two groups. Patrick Neary, 30, won in the first group, followed by Adam Colter, 36, (second place) and Jeff Bart, 27, (third place) and Pio Yoon, 24, won the second group, followed by Gabrielle Orcutt, 29, (second place) and Michael Cole, 53, (third place).
Evan Gilbert, 15, won in the 12 to 17 years of age category, with Gabriella Breer, 14, and Reagan Donahue, 13, taking second and third place, respectively. And James Percival, 10, won the 7 to 11 age bracket, followed by Darra Kryzanski, 10, in second place and Cody Kleinbach, 11, in third place.
The annual festival will continue through this weekend with the Apple Pie Eating contest on Saturday, following the first day of the arts and crafts show, situated behind the main stage.
The main stage will be a source of live entertainment beginning at 5 p.m. on Friday with a performance by Rough Justice, followed by the Extreme Magic of Eric Wilzig at 7:45 p.m. On Saturday there will be performances by The Amazing Andy and Relic before headliners, The Spin Doctors, take the stage at 7:45 p.m. And on Sunday, audiences will be treated to performances by Dance City & The Arts (noon) and Cody Bondra & The Contraband (3 p.m.).
To comment on this story or to contact staff writer Taylor Murchison-Gallagher, email her at TMurchison@PlainvilleObserver.com.
Bushels of Family Fun
Week one of the Apple Harvest Festival went off without a hitch, and thousands enjoyed “Bushels of Family Fun” which culminated with the parade on Sunday. This weekend, action resumes with week two of the festival. So get ready for the arts and crafts booths this weekend, along with more contests, food, activities, and entertainment— including the Spin Doctors on Saturday.
Photos by JANELLE MORELLI